The official WSIS Prepcom is moving into an accelerated phase as governments try to finalize texts in the next days. Starting yesterday, the sub-committees have begun meeting not only during the regular work hours but also into night sessions from 6-9pm. And they begin parallel sessions today, with two sub-committees meeting at the same time in different rooms. Meanwhile, I’m caught up drafting civil society’s own plenary charter.
Meanwhile, our concerns about informal drafting groups being closed to civil society have for the most part been allayed. While not approving any official procedure, in practice there has been little difficulty in civil society and business being quietly in the room during drafting sessions. Those of us who wanted to make a big stink about the drafting groups are not backing down on their protests. So its all good.
Meanwhile, drafting of new text on follow-up and implementation is moving so fast that civil society is having difficulty in drafting our own proposals fast enough.
I am mostly caught up these days in internal civil society business. In particular the working group on Working Methods that I chair with Ramin Kaweh has finalized our suggested “guidelines / charter” of the Civil Society Plenary. The goal of these guidelines is mostly to define a clear mechanism for civil society as a plenary to make a collective decision.
It is a very difficult task, finding a formulation that is agreeable to all. The main contentious area is how does one include civil society groups who are not present in the room. While there have been some calls for “virtual voting” procedures, in practice this is difficult to implement in a fair and cheap way. Meanwhile, having voting conducted with only those who happen to be present for a particular meeting also has legitimacy issues, since many groups that are accredited can not afford to come to these international meetings.
The compromise as a I see it is for some easy mechanism for proxy voting, perhaps using an email verification system to make sure that an organization is really giving its vote to a particular person. There are always possibilities of spoofing, but we might have to live with that. After all, we aren’t talking about credit card transactions or actual government elections.